Great Barrington annual town meeting June 7 2021

Michelle Loubert speaks Monday evening, at Great Barrington’s annual town meeting, about a citizens petition she helped author that would have restricted the marijuana industry in town. It was not approved.

GREAT BARRINGTON — As dusk neared, voters at annual town meeting Monday had rejected a citizens petition that would have limited locations where pot shops and farms are allowed and added restrictions that opponents said would drive the cannabis industry out of town.

And residents approved a bylaw change, another proposed by a citizens petition, that would allow residents to speak during pertinent moments at municipal meetings and hearings, not just at the end, after votes are taken.

Residents voted down a proposal to spend $1.2 million to buy land and construct a public parking lot downtown. Advocates said extra parking is crucial for economic development; opponents say there are too many other important needs in Great Barrington.

At the town’s second outdoor drive-in meeting in the Monument Mountain Regional High School parking lot, the heat wave had vanished with the sun.

Board of Health member Dr. Ruby Chang had, earlier in the day, expressed concern about the safety of holding the meeting under hot conditions.

As darkness inched closer, voters approved the town’s $12.96 million operating budget and $3.13 million in capital expenses for fiscal year 2022. Operating costs include pay hikes across a number of departments, at an approximately 5.8 percent increase over this year.

Also, residents said yes to the town’s $18.4 million share of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District’s budget.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.